, Volume 11, Issue 8, pp 1789-1801
Date: 14 Oct 2008

Fish fauna destruction after the introduction of a non-native predator (Cichla kelberi) in a Neotropical reservoir

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Abstract

In South America, the introduction of peacock-bass (Cichla), a voracious predator fish, has been an underestimated threat for native fish communities. Although this predator is widespread in many reservoirs, few studies have explored its impact on biodiversity. To investigate the relationship between invasion and fish diversity, the present study followed a natural experiment in the Rosana Reservoir (Paraná River basin), where Cichla kelberi were introduced in 2004. We monitored fish assemblages associated with submerged macrophytes between 2003 and 2007, using a 1 m2 throw trap. In the years following the introduction, fish diversity dramatically changed. For example, in March 2007, mean fish density and richness were reduced by ca. 95 and 80%, respectively, and many small-sized species had vanished. One aspect was the gradual change of biodiversity, which unfolded at two times during each year: (1) impacts during summer/autumn periods, which coincided with large shoals of young C. kelberi in the patches; and (2) assemblage recovery during the spring. The sequence of extinction-colonization events, however, might not be able to maintain fish assemblages due to the decrease in recovery intensity each spring; assuming a constant decline rate in the coming years, we predict complete assemblage extinction by the summer of 2010. Results from this natural experiment provided evidence supporting the collapse of fish assemblages soon after the introduction of C. kelberi. Such rapid destruction (2 years) reveals an important homogenizing force behind this predator and stresses the need for control measures that prevent new transferences among South American basins.